Model United Nations San Antonio (MUNSA) Finds Success Through Community

by KFC on January 21, 2013

MUNSA is a true community effort

Model United Nations San Antonio is one of the largest high school student-organized conferences in the nation, and it’s the event that the entire San Antonio MUN community looks forward to. Before the conference, I asked Secretary-General Isabella Olea to describe what makes MUNSA unique, and she provided a great response. Here’s Isabella:

“MUNSA is a unique conference for many reasons from its structure and staff to its participants and simulation. MUNSA is hosted by the International School of the Americas (ISA), the public magnet school that the entire staff attends. The first conference was held at our own campus in our own classrooms with only ISA students; after being located at the Municipal Auditorium in downtown San Antonio, MUNSA XVII will mark its first year on Trinity University’s campus. In just 17 years we have grown to be one of the largest student-run high school MUN simulations.

As I mentioned before MUNSA is unique in that it is entirely student-run, meaning every task to make MUNSA possible is completed by a high school student: it is a conference for students by students with one thing in common: a love for the MUN experience. At ISA, practically every student is involved in one way or another – there is a job for everyone. The freshmen participate as Press Corps, writing news articles and observing committee debate. The best articles are picked and published in the MUNSA newspaper every year. The sophomores all participate as delegates, and juniors and seniors have the opportunity to apply for leadership roles such as being a Co-Chair, on the Press Secretary Team, a Security member, on the Technology Team, a photographer, a committee secretary, or a delegates-at-large. Ten seniors are selected after an application process to be a member of the Secretariat, each with a different job. This coming week when the simulation is taking place at Trinity, our school will be practically empty with over 80% of the student body participating in the conference!

The participants at MUNSA are some of the most diverse, enthusiastic, and passionate delegates with whom I have collaborated. Students travel from schools across international and state borders to attend. When you listen to debate in committees next week, you will hear delegates from across Mexico and the United States. Judging by the quality of debate and the enthusiasm of its delegates, it can be assumed that the participants love what they are doing. The number of delegates has gradually increased each year, with this year’s number being the largest in MUNSA’s history, perhaps the largest student-run high school MUN conference in the country.”

I definitely noticed many of the aspects that Isabella mentioned during the conference. The keyword that everyone emphasized is community. This is a word that doesn’t get tossed around often at MUN conferences and is significant. Usually, conferences are about promoting their own school or staff, but MUNSA is about promoting MUN for all of San Antonio. About 80% of ISA takes MUN as a class and staffs the conference in various capacities, and a few guest chairs also help out. During the advisors meeting, other local conferences are given time to promote their events. And perhaps the most tangible aspect from my perspective is that the MUNSA staff and delegates are the most active MUN community I have ever encountered on Twitter! Some of them even tweeted me to visit their committee. Thank you for following and for all the retweets!

Although there are other high school student-run conferences of about the same size in the USA, MUNSA is the only one of that group that is held on a college campus, allows students to take their meals in the college dining halls, and features a delegate dance. In essence, they’re the only high school-organized conference that replicates the MUN experience that is traditionally put on my college-hosted conferences.

MUNSA also shares a distinction with prestigious conferences like Harvard and University of Chicago. First, I believe MUNSA is the only high school-organized conference in the mainland USA to have a Spanish language MUN committee. Puerto Rico has bilingual committees, and Harvard MUN occasionally has a Spanish-language committee as well. Second, MUNSA has a formal daytime Peacekeeping Force dressed in a beret and blue shirts to assist delegates with logistics at the conference. I believe MUNSA is the only conference with this type of Peacekeeping Force in the world; University of Chicago’s MUNUC conference has a nighttime Peacekeeping Operations lead by alumni. Most other conferences have a logistics team or staffers who help out with logistics part-time.

Several more unique aspects:

  • Follow-ups are allowed at MUNSA. This is very rare in MUN.
  • Delegates are allowed to motion to give more speaking time to someone who exhausted their time as a diplomatic gesture. That’s the first time I’ve seen that motion in MUN.
  • MUNSA has chairs-at-large, which I think is smart planning in case they need to fill any chairing spots last minute.
  • Rules are announced at the beginning of each session (i.e. after breaks) which I think is a good step in establishing authority. More conferences should do something like this.
  • Points are scored at MUNSA and the maximum score is 55. Although Southern California and Puerto Rico also use points, the MUNSA variation is much different because of the capped score and because points are given for authenticity, participation, parliamentary procedure, tact, and public speaking rather than for every action taken. Rubrics are transparent and scoresheets with the rubrics are distributed to all the schools.

Here are some photos of MUNSA delegates and staff having FUNSA! Make sure to check out our Facebook album  for more photos!

MUNSA is the only conference to have a daytime Peacekeeping force

Dr. Richard Reed, the Chair of Environmental Studies at Trinity University, delivered a very compelling keynote speech on deforestation

MUNSA moved to Trinity University this year

An ISA teacher with her students in the Spanish-language OAS

Alli Gillespie, a former student at a summer program that we taught, and the rest of the SHC chairs

The awesome team of UN Women chairs

Moderated caucus at UN Women

The UNEP chairs threw a crisis to their delegates

Delegates voting in UNEP

The Human Rights Council chairs

Delegates making new friends at MUNSA

Running MUNSA is a true team effort

Delegates present their resolution in the General Assembly

The Security Council chairs smile for Best Delegate!

Congrats to Secretary-General Isabella Olea, Director-General Miguel Guevara, and the rest of the MUNSA staff on a successful conference!

Ronald Reagan High School won the Best Large Delegation award, and Theodore Roosevelt High School won the Best Small Delegation Award. MUNSA also raised $5000 for BuildOn, a charity that builds schools in rural areas around the world.

Congrats to all the staff, delegates, and the entire MUNSA community for a successful conference!! Thank you to Secretary-General Isabella Olea, Director-General Miguel Guevara, and Program Sponsor Cassandra Allen for the very warm welcome. A few more shout outs go out to Andrew Labrador, Kat Sotelo, Amy Santiago, Zelda Ziebell, Alli Gillespie, Dani Cohn, and others for tweeting or welcoming me to visit their committees! Also, thank you to Grace Herndon and Sebastian Vega for some photos. Finally, special thanks goes out to MUNSA alumna Camille Moro for hosting me in San Antonio and taking me to the conference!

  • Kate G

    I feel wounderful that I was a part of MUNSA. If you do not know about ISA, or MUNSA you should definantly check it out. It was an amazing expirence!
    -Go ISA Globies!

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